WOODRUFF: We continue now with our weeklong look at the growing influence of political blogs. With me here in Washington are, again, Howard Kurtz of CNN’s “RELIABLE SOURCES,” and Jacki Schechner, who is our blog reporter.
Jackie, tell us what you’re seeing now.
JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN BLOG REPORTER: You are absolutely right, Judy. They are talking about whether or not the journalists are going to jail. And Howie is with me here to talk about that a little more.
We actually — when the news broke, we went onto the blogs to take a look and see who was talking about it. InstaPundit broke and said the subpoenas are out. That was the first time we sort of saw that. And that was just before noon, so about the same time, a little bit after the news came out.
Then we went over to Vodkapundit.com, and what they were talking about there, they had the press release that came from “TIME” magazine where the editor in chief was standing behind his journalist. And he was basically saying that journalists have to protect their sources, that’s absolutely what they must do or they lose their credibility as journalists.
KURTZ: You might think, Jacki, that it would be a great first amendment debate about should Judy Miller and Matt Cooper go to jail, why should they go to jail, what would this — what kind of chilling effect would this have. But that doesn’t seem to be the focus of the debate.
A lot of the Web sites beating up on Bob Novak. He’s not a popular figure on the left, and wondering about his involvement in this whole thing. It was his 2003 column that started this.
And I’ve got a soap box — excuse me, I’ve got SoapboxBlog.com up here talking about Jeff Gannon, the online reporter who resigned last week. He had something to do with reporting on the Plame case as well.
“How does a writer for a pretend news service get access to CIA documents on Valerie Plame?” So there are different sidebar aspects of this whole story that seem to be exciting the blogers more than the more fundamental question for people in my line of work, which is reporters protecting their sources and staying out of jail.
SCHECHNER: Well, Gannon was one of the big stories that we covered yesterday. So it’s all sort of interconnected, which we talked about, how the blogs sort of feed back on each other.
And then we went over to DailyCause (ph), which is interesting, because Cause (ph) says that they should give up their source, that who are they protecting, who are these reporters protecting? It’s somebody in the Bush administration who is using them, which I think you mentioned earlier that it’s a possibility.
KURTZ: Very easy to say, but if they were to take that advice, they basically would be out of business. Who would ever trust them again? Who would ever give them information and say, “You can’t use my name?”
It’s a very risky road to travel down when you’ve made a promise to somebody that you are going to expect to keep.
SCHECHNER: That’s right. As a journalist, that’s sort of where your credibility begins and ends.
We also want to talk about Eason Jordan, that issue in the blogs. Not so much about Eason Jordan, even though that’s sort of the topic of conversation, but more about the role of the blogger and the role of the mainstream media and how they can sort of interconnect.
Buzz Machine was one that was sort of talking about the Internet and how the Internet changes journalism in the face of journalism, and how sort of there’s eyes and ears everywhere now, and how that’s going to change the mainstream media. There’s other sites like Captains Quarters, where they’re talking about the integration, the synthesis, is the word he uses, the old and the new media. “The Washington Times” was an example that he cited as somebody who’s actually starting to do that well.
And then PressThink, which I think is really interesting. A site we talked about yesterday where you can go and see what the stories are through the day.
KURTZ: In real time.
SCHECHNER: In real time. Which ones are rising, which ones are falling, what’s number one.
The number one today that people are checking out is this thing called PressThink. And it’s written by Jay Rosen, an NYU professor. And he’s talking about — he says it’s his closing thoughts on the resignation of Eason Jordan. But what he says is, “The solution when you miscommunicate has to be more communication, not excommunication.” KURTZ: But the debate has very much moved from should Eason Jordan have resigned as CNN’s chief news executive over those comments he made about the U.S. military and journalists in Iraq, to the role of the blogosphere. You have bloggers arguing with each other, is it a lynch mob or not, are we providing a good factual check on the mainstream media or not.
You certainly have some resentment from people in the old dinosaur media. Now you have people looking over their shoulders. And so it’s interesting the way this has just absolutely caught fire. And I think this will rage for days because…
SCHECHNER: Oh, absolutely.
KURTZ: … it’s like the Dan Rather story. It’s a tale in which bloggers played an absolutely essential role. This would not have happened without that original posting from somebody who attended the Dallas conference and now they are either celebrating or in some cases having second thoughts about their role in the Jordan case.
SCHECHNER: Yes. I mean, there is some call out there still for the tapes to be released from Davos and the World Economic Forum and all of that stuff.
KURTZ: I would like the tapes to be released. Let’s resolve the question of what he said and what he didn’t say.
SCHECHNER: Right. Right. But I think also now they’re talking about integration, not so much who’s right, who’s wrong, who’s checking whom, but how do we integrate this and how does this new medium become part of mainstream media and sort of integrate and become one big journalistic entity with sort of checks and balances and that sort of thing.
Another story that sort of relates to this we thought was interesting, it was rising on — on (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We took a look at it, and it’s been rising all day.
It’s BatesLine.com. And it’s a Tulsa, Oklahoma, blogger.
He got a letter from “Tulsa World,” a local newspaper, that basically said, stop publishing bits and pieces of what we publish. And they sent him a letter, sort of a cease and desist, and said that we’ll take legal action if you don’t stop. You want to reprint anything that’s on our — in our newspaper, you need to get clearance for it.
So his call basically was, help me out here. I’m going to need to speak on behalf of all the bloggers.
And there’s some of the bloggers who’ve responded — Wizbang blog was an interesting response that we came up with. Kevin Aylward wrote a letter back to John Blair (ph), who is the VP of “Tulsa World.” And this is the quote: “It’s a bad idea to tangle with the community of Web blogs,” and he refers to Rather (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And basically says, “When you attempt to silence them, you attempt to silence them all.”
KURTZ: It sounds like he’s saying nice little site you got here, it would be a shame if anything happened to it. But, you know, if this blogger is really just picking up bits and pieces from the biggest newspaper in Oklahoma’s capital, and putting his own comments on it, everybody does that these days.
I do that every day on WashingtonPost.com. I provide the links. Other news organizations like that because it drives traffic to their sites. You can’t just steal outright the entire editorial product. That’s called theft.
KURTZ: But if you’re just picking out bits and pieces, especially if you’re linking to the source and crediting the source, then I’m not sure that “Tulsa World” is going to win on at least the public relations battlefield.
SCHECHNER: Well, that’s what they were saying, that he’s linking. And really that’s not infringement or anything. So we’ll keep an eye on it and see if this gets any bigger.
We’ll turn it back to Judy.
WOODRUFF: And Jacki, you’re answering a question I was going to ask, which is, how much of all the conversation back and forth on these blogs is driven by cable television news? You’ve got three, at least three channels out there. Certainly CNN right in the middle of it. But you are saying that some of this conversation is being picked up from newspapers?
SCHECHNER: Well, they’re picking up some of these issues and then they’re discussing them and talking about them. It’s not so much their self-discovery today. They’re not necessarily finding new issues today. But a lot of them are sort of talking about what’s going on.
Michael Jackson being one good example. We…
KURTZ: I’ve got Dead Pool (ph) up here and they’ve got — a lot of people posting about the fact that Michael Jackson was taken to the emergency room today. Dead Pool (ph) says, “Just keep him out of the children’s cancer ward, OK?” That gives you the tenor of the comments.
But I’m not seeing much about Michael Jackson in many of the political blogs that I look at regularly, even though it’s been on cable television so often. There isn’t as much for them to argue about in this case. Although it may not go away. I mean, after all, we’re still in jury selection.
SCHECHNER: It’s always ever-changing. So we’ll have more tomorrow and see what’s going on then. WOODRUFF: All right. Jackie Schechner, Howard Kurtz, thank you both. And a reminder there at the end that all these blogs are not political blogs. They do look at issues and what’s going on across the spectrum.